UK’s needy Muslims missing out as 81 per cent of charity donations sent overseas

24 November 2012

Research conducted by the National Zakat Foundation (NZF), a charity which collects and distributes funds to Muslims in the UK, and Islamic Bank of Britain plc (IBB), the UK’s only wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, today reveals that the UK’s most needy and vulnerable Muslims are missing out on vital funds as 81% of charity donations are being sent overseas.  The survey also found Zakat is the least understood of all the five Islamic pillars and only 60% are confident in their ability to calculate their Zakat accurately.

The findings have been revealed following a national survey commissioned and conducted by NZF and IBB looking into the habits of British Zakat* (alms) payers.  The survey was completed by almost 600 respondents during Ramadan 2012. 

IBB helped NZF to carry out the research in order to promote the charity’s aim of building a Zakat conscious Muslim community in the UK.  Zakat empowers communities through the re-distribution of wealth.  It shares a common purpose with Islamic finance which works to provide an ethical and socially responsible financial system that operates without interest (Riba).   

Key findings from the survey reveal: 1. 66% of respondents are regular Zakat payers with an average annual donation of £700 2. 66% of respondents pay their Zakat during the holy month of Ramadan and over 70% feel a spiritual connection with the pillar of Zakat when doing so 3. However, only 60% of respondents are confident in their ability to calculate their Zakat accurately and rate their own knowledge of Zakat as lowest out of all five pillars of Islam 4. 81% of respondents send their Zakat payment overseas.  However, 88% of respondents would be prepared to pay their Zakat in the UK to support eligible recipients 

Commenting on the results, Iqbal Nasim, Head of the National Zakat Foundation said, “Within the Islamic tradition there is a strong emphasis on distributing Zakat within local communities.  However, as the survey finds, the vast majority of Zakat donations from the UK are paid overseas. We believe that those paying Zakat should start to give more consideration to the hardship that Muslims within their own local communities face and how their payment could help to alleviate this.  A stronger understanding of the purpose of Zakat and its growing role in tackling the socio-economic problems of the UK needs to be established amongst British Muslims.  In light of increasing poverty across the UK, brought about by a challenging economic climate and likely to be accentuated by imminent changes to the welfare system, this is a matter we cannot ignore.”

Sultan Choudhury, managing director, Islamic Bank of Britain also commented, “The survey findings have highlighted some important issues, particularly around the need to improve our understanding of Zakat.  It reaffirms the importance of the work carried out by NZF which aims to encourage a Zakat-conscious UK Muslim community.  The survey has also highlighted the need for more Zakat donations to reach deserving Muslims in the UK.  It is encouraging that through NZF’s work a high proportion of survey respondents, 88% will now consider this.  IBB is a proud partner of NZF and looks forward to continue working with the charity and supporting its aims.”

As a result of the survey and the issues highlighted from the findings, NZF is set to mount a national campaign to address the main areas of concerns.  This will consist of: - An awareness campaign about the obligation of paying Zakat, its great importance in empowering the Muslim community and the urgent need for Zakat distribution in the UK - An education campaign - providing the Muslim community with easily accessible knowledge about Zakat and the means to help implement it accurately - Promotion of NZF’s Zakat resources, which consist of an online Zakat calculator and an email Q&A Service enabling users to submit detailed questions to qualified scholars regarding their Zakat

NZF’s work with IBB also enables customers to pay their Zakat in IBB branches or via the IBB website.  This is in addition to the secure payment facility available on the NZF website.  Further information and payments can be made by visiting and .

NOTES: *Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam which mandates upon all Muslims to annually pay a fixed portion of their wealth to those in need.  The purpose of Zakat is to purify the wealth held by individuals to attain socio-economic justice. 


About The National Zakat Foundation

The National Zakat Foundation is a ground-breaking initiative which aims to utilise Zakat funds and voluntary donations collected in the United Kingdom for the benefit of local, deserving recipients.

This group includes some of the most vulnerable members of the community, including widows, orphans, refugees, the aged as well as the homeless.

The work of NZF covers five core areas that together form an end-to-end service for the Muslim community in the UK with respect to Zakat: Awareness, Education, Calculation, Collection and Distribution. 

NZF works to strengthen and enhance the UK Muslim community’s engagement with Zakat and to improve its impact on the most vulnerable members of our community nationwide.  Its ultimate aim is to encourage a Zakat-conscious UK Muslim community where every family and individual facing hardship is empowered to lead safe and dignified lives.

About Islamic Bank of Britain

Islamic Bank of Britain plc (the Bank, IBB) has pioneered Sharia compliant retail banking in the UK and now offers the largest range of Sharia compliant retail financial products in the UK.  These include Sharia compliant mortgage alternatives, the Home Purchase Plan (HPP) and Buy to Let Purchase Plan (BTLPP), current accounts and savings accounts.  The Bank was also the first to introduce Sharia compliant business banking to the UK, and now offers a wide range of institutional and business banking products and services, including Commercial Property Finance.  Several of the Bank’s products remain unique in the UK retail financial market.

The Bank is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and is a member of Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Sharia compliant banking operates without the use of interest and is founded on Islamic finance principles derived from trade, entrepreneurship and risk-sharing.  IBB has a dedicated a Sharia Compliance Officer (SCO) and a panel of respected Sharia Scholars, called the Sharia Supervisory Committee (SSC), which acts as an independent body to guarantee that its products and activities are Sharia compliant. 

Whilst IBB offers products and services that are designed in accordance with Sharia principles, it is an inclusive, ethical organisation and welcomes customers of all faiths looking for a bank with a transparent, prudent and community-focused approach.

Notes to editors: 1. Interviews with Islamic Bank of Britain plc are available on request. 2. The Bank should only be referred to as “Islamic Bank of Britain plc”. If abbreviated please use “IBB”.


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